|“Plan E: General Hospital”|
|Written by||Richard Curtis & Ben Elton|
|Directed by||Richard Boden|
|Guest stars||Miranda Richardson & Bill Wallis|
|Original airdate||26th October 1989|
|List of episodes|
"General Hospital" is the fifth episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, the fourth series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder.
The episode opens with George and Baldrick playing "I spy", to Blackadder's great annoyance and boredom. However, the game is interrupted when a bomb lands on their trench after George says 'I hear, with my little ear, something beginning with B!', injuring George and sending him to the field hospital, where he meets the sweet-natured Nurse Mary Fletcher-Brown (to whom Edmund takes a dislike, owing to her soppiness). The visit is cut short as Blackadder is ordered to General Melchett's HQ. There, Melchett and Captain Darling act suspiciously, explaining that there is a German spy who's been leaking the British battleplans back to the Kaiser, although Blackadder expresses surprise that the army has battleplans. Melchett explains that they do, all directed according to the grand plan. When Blackadder makes a guess of the plan, "Continue total slaughter until everyone's dead, except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig, and their tortoise Alan" — this leads Melchett to believe that this leak is worse than everyone thought. The leak has been traced to the field hospital, and Melchett orders Blackadder to discover the spy and gives out a suggestion for methods of interrogation: get a hold of a Cocker Spaniel, tie the suspect down on a chair with a potty on his head, then pop his todger between two floury baps, and shout "Dinnertime, Fido!" He also states that if Blackadder succeeds he will be head of a new intelligence network, Operation Winkle (to winkle out the spies). After Blackadder leaves, Darling expresses his mistrust and asks to go along in order to keep an eye on him. Melchett goes along with the idea and shoots Darling in the foot to give him a cover story.
Blackadder and Baldrick return to the hospital and tell George about the spy and the three come up with ideas. Blackadder has Baldrick watch "Mr. Smith", an injured soldier with a thick German accent who shares the room with George, although he is no more suspicious of him than anyone else. Darling shows up and, after Edmund makes several cutting remarks about his injury, expresses his lack of confidence in Blackadder's abilities, to which Edmund replies that he'll begin interviewing suspects right away. Immediately the scene changes to show Blackadder interrogating Darling in Melchett's recommended method, and asks him a couple of questions (one of which is when Darling answers the name of the German head of state, Blackadder accuses him of being on "first name terms with the Kaiser"). Then, Darling's humiliation intensifies when he fearfully reveals his past as a British citizen after Blackadder threatens to set the Cocker Spaniel on him. When Darling says he is as english as Queen Victoria, Blackadder replies 'So your father's German, you're half German and you married a German.' He is finally let go when he simply says that he's not a German spy and as the interrogation is interrupted by Nurse Mary; Darling staggers out, swearing revenge, only to crash into something along the way. Mary reveals that her soppiness is just her bedside manner (or "fluffy bunny act" as she calls it) and that she's smarter and more cynical than Edmund initially suspected, and the two enter into a sexual relationship.
At one point, in the hospital, George asks Smith if he knows any suspicious characters who might be German spies. Smith answers "Nein" and an astonished George misinterprets it as nine suspects, speculating that Blackadder has "got his work cut out for him."
Eventually Edmund's investigation ends and he brings Nurse Mary along to HQ to talk with General Melchett about the spy and the leak which, Melchett explains, has gotten much worse (the Germans were even able to send him a reminder the day before that he was due to change his shirts). Mary says that she suspected Darling because of his "pooh-poohing" a court-martial offense somewhat similar to insubordination, causing Melchett to relate to Blackadder a story of a Major who got pooh-pooed and poo-poohed it, leading eventually to the regiment having to be disbanded. Nurse Mary also voices her suspicion of Smith, but Blackadder dismisses him as too obvious, reasoning that the Germans would never send a man with such an obvious accent. Edmund says that Mary herself is the spy, a fact he verified over their time together: first, George reveals that she speaks German and helped him with the German words in his letters; then, she reveals to Blackadder her knowledge of tank movements; finally, she doesn't recognize that out of "Oxford, Cambridge, and Hull", only two are great universities (to which Melchett replies "That's right. Oxford's a complete dump" - see Notes below). Baldrick leads Mary away as Melchett picks up the phone to organise a firing squad. Smith enters the room, followed by Darling, who tackles him and claims he's the spy, which he admits at gunpoint. However, Melchett reveals that the man is a British spy: Brigadier-General Sir Bernard Proudfoot-Smith, the finest in the army and the one who tipped him off on the spy in the hospital. Smith explains that his accent is the result of spending so much time undercover in Germany. Melchett rewards Blackadder by making the head of Operation: Winkle, denounces Darling as a "complete arse," and he and Smith leave to watch Mary's execution. George enters the room and unwittingly reveals himself as the leak when he remarks that the relative he's been writing to is, in fact, his Uncle Hermann in Munich, to whom he even recently wrote about Melchett's shirts. Darling smugly asks Blackadder if he wants to tell this to Melchett, and the two race out of the room past a confused George.
- Melchett's (Stephen Fry) opinion that "Oxford is a complete dump" and Blackadder's (Rowan Atkinson) subsequent confusion is a reference to the actors' different relationships to Oxford and Cambridge, and the historic rivalry between the two universities. Fry attended Cambridge, first becoming prominent in the Cambridge Footlights alongside Blackadder co-star Hugh Laurie, while Rowan Atkinson and Richard Curtis (the creators of the series) went to Oxford. By most accounts, the line in question was ad-libbed by Fry, accounting for Atkinson's confusion.
- Miranda Richardson appears in this episode as Nurse Mary. Richardson had played a similar role in the episode "Amy and Amiability", in which she plays a seemingly soppy character called Amy Hardwood, who later turns out to be a notorious highwayman named "The Shadow."
- One of the three universities Blackadder mentions is the University of Hull. However, the University of Hull wasn't established until 1927, ten years after the events of this episode.
- After Captain Darling insists that he is as British as Queen Victoria, Blackadder responds: "Then your father's German, you're half-German and you married another German." It was Queen Victoria's mother, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who was born a German (even if Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn also had mainly German roots). So, Blackadder should either have accused Darling of having a German mother or of having a largely German family tree.